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Type of Marine Cargo: Break Bulk

Posted in Marine Cargo - 3 Jun 2019, 9:57 AM

What is Break Bulk Cargo?

Break bulk cargo is a type of general cargo that is loaded individually in defined load units, such as bagged, drummed, palletized, and other unitized goods. Break bulk cargo is carried by special ships that are known as general cargo ships. Usually, cargoes are loaded under the ship’s deck while some ships load the goods in the tween decks.

Loading Process of Break Bulk Cargo

Some preparations must be done before the loading process. The deck must be cleaned and repaired if there’s any damage. Dunnage is laid ready for loading to support and protect the cargo during the transportation process. The train or truck deliver the cargo to the dock and store it in the warehouse.

When the ship arrives, the cargo is moved to the quay and lifted on the board by using the ship’s gear. After that, each cargo is stowed separately under the deck. If the cargo is sensitive to moisture or water, it has to be covered with matting, waterproof paper or similar materials.

Variety of Break Bulk Cargo

  • Bagged cargo, including cement, coffee beans, or other goods that are kept in the bag. It is stowed on double dunnage and placed far away from the pillars.
  • Barrels, a container to store liquids (wine, beer, sauce, water, etc.). The barrels are stowed on the beds of dunnage and quoins with cover at the top to prevent the movement of the barrels.
  • Corrugated boxes are mostly loaded on pallets and an adequate layer of dunnage. 
  • Wooden boxes are usually used for heavy packaging and made of plywood, lumber, and engineered woods. It is stowed on double layer dunnage in the holds or single dunnage in the tween decks.
  • Drums can be made of steel, fiber, or plastics. It is used for store liquids or powders. Metal drums are stowed in the longitudinal space of the ship with dunnage between the tiers.
  • Paper reels are stowed on their sides and kept away from the heavy goods because it is easily crushed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Break Bulk Shipping

Because of several drawbacks, the use of break bulk has significantly declined since the development of containers. First of all, it costs more resources, either human resources or infrastructures. Break bulk cargo must be loaded individually, so it requires more times to deliver all of the goods compared with container shipping. It is also susceptible to damage and other safety issues.

Despite the drawbacks, there are also notable benefits of break bulk. It’s easier to ship oversized goods and break bulk cargo can be delivered to the majority of ports because it only requires simple facilities. On the other hand, not all ports are ready to receive containers.

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